Unemployment information now availble by legislative district
State says it could lead to more jobs; local development officials unsure
DIXON – The state is providing unemployment information in additional ways, hoping it will help lead to more jobs.
Information long has been compiled by county, and by regional metropolitan areas.
Now it also is being complied by legislative district.
That's to benefit economic development groups, to help local economic planners and decision‑makers, the Illinois Department of Employment Security said in a news release.
But local economic development leaders say they don't see the need, or the benefit.
The new information will include the number of people receiving unemployment benefits, the number of people qualifying for the first time, the number of weeks benefits have been paid, and the number of military veterans receiving unemployment benefits.
IDES also is providing a better idea of the age and of unemployment recipients. They are broken down into three categories: younger than 25, 25-54, and older than 54. Recipients' level of formal education will be provided in two categories: the number of recipients with high school diplomas or less, and numbers of those with college experience and more.
"This new breakout is another way to evaluate an area without being bound by county or city borders," IDES spokesman Greg Rivara said.
The data will be released quarterly, he said.
Data are available for Congressional districts and state senate districts. Information for state House districts is not being provided because it would allow people to identify employment trends of specific employers, Rivara said.
Tracking at the legislative level can help planners, business leaders and others identify trends and evaluate how those trends might affect the region, the release said.
Increases or decreases in the number of first-time applicants for unemployment benefits might indicate economic hardship or economic growth, Rivara said.
Data regarding age, education and veteran status could be used to convince a potential business that there is a local workforce ready to suit its needs, Rivara said.
"When businesses make decisions to relocate or expand, they have to take a look at a few things," he said. "One of those critical things is available, productive labor force."
The data stem from information IDES receives from those receiving benefits. The numbers are reported on a 4-week moving average so that weekly volatility does not affect it.
The data will not help voters make election decisions, Rivara said. The data are "looking forward," meaning they have data for newly reorganized districts, so they are not a reflection of current representatives' work.
The information could give local decision-makers more ideas of how Sauk Valley Community College can respond to the area's needs, Rivara said.
John Thompson is president and CEO of Dixon Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He said he's not sure what effect the data by district will have for economic developers.
"I don't know how much difference it will make," Thomson said. "I guess I don't have a whole lot of plans for implementing anything based on a legislative district. When people are looking at employment patterns, most of that we track by county, not legislative district."
Corinne Bender is the economic director of Morrison Area Development Corp.
Unemployment data is more helpful to her when broken down by county, she said.
"We're trying to work as a county," she said. "What benefits Sterling benefits Morrison."
She is adding unemployment information to the development corporation's website, and she will be using the information broken down by county, she said.
"To me, the more specific the data to me, the more useful it is," she said.
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